Loan waiver, free power will not solve farm crisis: Venkaiah

He describes climate change as biggest challenge facing the world

Terming farm loan waivers and free electricity to farmers as “temporary measures” that will not resolve agrarian crisis, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu said only science and technology can make agriculture sustainable and profitable and take the country forward in combating global warming and climate change.

Addressing the valedictory of the 107th Indian Science Congress 2020, which had “Science and Technology: Rural Development” as its theme, he described climate change as the biggest challenge the world was facing today.

“We cannot depend on import-based food security. We need to become self sufficient in all aspects and build home-grown food security. Presently, agrarian distress is so severe that there is large-scale migration from agriculture, posing a big challenge to us. The only way to retain people in agriculture is to make it sustainable. I come from a farming family and from experience I tell you that loan waiver and free power are only temporary measures. Free power often means no power, and farmers need loans every year and if we go on waiving loans, how can we expect the banks to issue new ones?” he asked.

Calling upon scientists to engage their resources and focus on the agrarian issues and improve the lives of farmers, Mr. Naidu placed a few challenges facing the farm sector today. “Optimum use of water is a major challenge, even in the light of climate change. We need to device newer methods that increase the efficiency of water usage in farming. I recently visited Vietnam, where the average yield for paddy per acre is more than our country. We need to seriously work on ways to improve soil fertility,” he said, adding that devising climate-resistant crop varieties was also a major concern in the coming years.

Mr. Naidu also stressed on the need for value addition to agricultural products, which he said the country was lacking. “Why do we import tomato ketchup and potato chips when we grow both on a large scale. The scientific fraternity needs to put in efforts at not only value addition in the food chain but also on new preservative technologies,” he said.

“We cannot wish away global warming and climate change. It impacts all of us and especially agriculture. The scientific community needs to help us combat this,” he said.

Moral science too

“We need to reorient science and technology to build a sustainable planet, not just for the sake of technological advancement,” he said, stressing on the need for morality. “When I was in school, there were science classes and moral science classes. But now the morals have gone and only science continues. We need to reorient ourselves as even if science advances, we will face new problems due to lack of morals,” he said.

Woman president for ISC 2021

The Indian Science Congress Association, Kolkata, that met in the city on the sidelines of ISC 2020 on Tuesday, elected Vijay Laxmi Saxena, co-ordinator, Bioinformatics Infrastructure Facility, Kanpur, as the general president for ISC 2021.

She will be the second woman to lead the ISC in its 107-year history. Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu expressed happiness on her election and said women need to be given equal and adequate opportunity to prove their merit. K.S. Rangappa, the incumbent general president, handed over charge to Dr. Saxena on Tuesday.

The meeting held earlier in the day was inconclusive about the venue of ISC 2021 and this will be decided subsequently in the coming months, after a team of ISCA visits and evaluates the cities keen to host the Congress in 2021, sources said

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:30:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/loan-waiver-free-power-will-not-solve-farm-crisis-venkaiah/article30506433.ece

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